Hello, my name is Don Alexander Eckford.
I chose mathematics as a major after taking a course in mathematics analysis in college (often called Real Analysis). I joined the class late and took it to help a friend who knew I was “good” at mathematics. I excelled at the class and caught the attention of a professor who inspired me to switch from engineering to mathematics. I decided to double major in mathematics and physics because these two majors seemed to be closer to the truth of some pure knowledge that I sought at the time. Before graduating I served as the president of the student mathematical association. It was there that I learned the importance of keeping close to ones professors and classroom while studying and to stay in the flow of things. I stayed to get my masters in applied math.
I started work both as a teacher in 2 year colleges and as an actuary at a national insurance company. The joy of doing both and not just one, drew my interest into pursuing a phD in an area of applied mathematics. I was attracted to the areas of economics and finance because they both seemed the ways to understand society better while doing mathematics and statistics combined with social science theory. Along the way I was able to get another masters in finance and economics. The beauty of mathematics for me is that very simple assumptions can lead theories in areas of physical science and surprisingly social science. These theories even have testable implications in the world around us. This is in part what the data science revolution is about. The master’s degree takes students to the edge of idea creation. This is a fun place to be and keeps the world exciting. I am glad to be in a place where I can share some of that excitement with students.